Week 11 NFL Confidence Plays | Fantasy Football 2021

In a previous intro this year, I’ve made a reference or two about my love of storytelling, more specifically in the form of screenplays.

I have a friend who is currently in film school. Five years ago, he began working on a project that would ultimately become the first feature film he directed. He experienced many hiccups in production — even having to recast one of the lead roles months from completion — but he persevered and finished it.

Not only did he finish it, but he also organized a string of promotional pieces with local radio and TV stations, even raising money to put up billboards throughout town to advertise the film. He then organized a red carpet premiere at a local theater.

After the film’s buzz started making waves throughout our city/state, he was approached by some investors who wanted to give him money to fund his next project. Their thought process — if he could do what he did with no money, what could he do if he had money?

I love this story because it shows what kind of amazing things can happen when you put your head down and get to work. I also love it because my friend approached me about putting together a story to pitch to those investors.

What will come of this opportunity? Who knows. But I do know I need to get to work. And so do you.

We’re heading into Week 11. There are only three or four weeks before the playoffs begin in your league. Are you in a position to lock up a playoff spot? Are you in the middle of the pack and need a move or two to better position yourself for a run?

There’s no time like the present to start making things happen. My friend was 20 when he began making his first movie, and he’s now 25 with plans for more. I’m 38, still working towards my big break. So what do we have in common? We put in the work.

Now get off your ass and do the same so you have reason to celebrate when the year is over.

A recap of last week — I sucked. Like, awful. Only 45% correct last week. But if reading Joel Wirth’s Blurred Lines recap of his Week 10 picks taught me anything, it’s that even the analytics thought it was a wonky week. So I’m just gonna take a mulligan and hope that Week 11 isn’t as drunk as Week 10.

A quick reminder of what Play and Fade mean: Play simply means players that I love based on matchups and my expectation that they’ll finish with more points than projected. Fade indicates players that I think will underperform their projections/consensus weekly rankings. It doesn’t mean I’m outright benching them, but I’m likely not rushing to put them in any DFS lineups either. Onto Week 11.

Play

QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. WAS – In one ear, I have my co-host, Joe Zollo, telling me I’m a fucking moron. In the other, I hear Admiral Ackbar screaming, “It’s a trap!” I’m aware of how risky it probably is to feel confident in starting Cam Newton in his first start of 2021 after only being on the team for around 10 days (by the time the game kicks off). But here are the facts — the Washington defense blows. They allow the most fantasy points to QBs and allow the 2nd-most TD passes. The latter stat isn’t all that important when discussing Cam Newton, who only threw five TD passes over the first 16 weeks of 2020. But they also struggle against running QBs, which is Newton’s forte. They’ve allowed the 10th-most rushing TDs and 7th most rushing yards to QBs, and even gave up 95 rushing yards to Giants QB Daniel Jones. Cam’s value this week is in his rushing ability, something we know is a cheat code for QBs.

Other QBs with good matchups: Ryan Tannehill (TEN) vs. HOU and Justin Fields (CHI) vs. BAL

RB Myles Gaskin (MIA) at NYJ – If you’re more of a numerology buff, you likely believe Myles Gaskin is primed to pop off in Week 11. Since Week 4, Gaskin’s fantasy finishes are as follows: RB78, RB2, RB47, RB9, RB35, RB8, and RB42. So we’re likely looking at an RB6 finish, and that’s without considering this week’s opponent — the New York Jets. It’s no secret how bad the Jets are at stopping the run. This year, they allow 39.14 fantasy points per game to RBs, the most in the league. The 2nd-most? That’s 30.93 fantasy points per game surrendered by Seattle. The Jets have allowed 20 total TDs to RBs on the year. The next closest is 16 by the Lions. So I’m pretty sure you don’t need any more info to sell you on Gaskin this week. Just trust your friendly neighborhood numerologist this week.

RB A.J. Dillon (GB) at MIN – How many backup RBs in the league have exploded in spot starts this year? Alexander Mattison was RB7 and RB6, respectively, in his two starts filling in for Dalvin Cook. Khalil Herbert had two top-12 finishes while filling in for David Montgomery. Rhamondre Stevenson, just last week, was the RB2 in place of Damien Harris. Not a single one of them is as big and bruising as A.J. Dillon. The Vikings aren’t great against RBs — 11th-most to RBs on the season — and Dillon has three top-24 finishes in his last six games. AS THE BACKUP TO AARON JONES. Now imagine Dillon with a full workload? I’m literally salivating at the thought.

Other RBs with good matchups: Leonard Fournette (TB) vs. NYG, Josh Jacobs (LV) vs. CIN, and D’Onta Foreman (TEN) vs. HOU

WR D.J. Moore (CAR) vs. WAS – Call me crazy, but maybe the return of Cam Newton can help revitalize what was looking like an elite D.J. Moore season. From Weeks 1-4, Moore was WR4. Since Week 5, he’s WR38. It may not sound that bad, but here are just a few names of WRs who have scored more than Moore since Week 5 — Donovan Peoples-Jones, Jamal Agnew, Tim Patrick, and Kendrick Bourne. Newton and Moore have a rapport going back to Moore’s rookie year (2018), so maybe, just maybe, Newton can give him a needed boost. I’ve mentioned that Washington is bad against QBs. That sentiment also extends to WRs, where they allow the 2nd-most fantasy points per game. Moore is great at taking short passes for big gains. Newton doesn’t have the arm strength he used to, so let’s hope for some YAC!

WR DeVonta Smith (PHI) vs. NO – Don’t look now, but DeVonta Smith is the WR1 in fantasy over the last two weeks. He had his first multi-touchdown game in Week 10 and is looking like the WR1 the Eagles hoped he would be. As good as the Saints’ run defense is, their pass defense has some holes. They’re allowing the 4th-most fantasy points to WRs and 100 or more yards to a receiver in two of their last three games. Over their previous two games, they’ve given up two touchdowns to Olamide Zaccheaus and 100 yards to Marcus Johnson. If you’re wondering who they are, that’s kind of the point. Smith should be in for another solid week.

Other WRs with good matchups: Corey Davis (NYJ) vs. MIA, Kenny Golladay (NYG) at TB, and Rashod Bateman (BAL) at CHI

TE C.J. Uzomah (CIN) at LV – Only two TEs have more than one week as fantasy’s TE1. Travis Kelce… and C.J. Uzomah. If there’s a week where Joe Burrow and the Bengals can deploy Uzomah, it’s this week against the Raiders. Las Vegas has allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points to TEs, which includes 6.7 receptions per game. Uzomah’s season-high in catches is five in Week 4 (his first TE1 game this season), and he has seen nine targets over his last two games. He hasn’t scored in two games but does have five touchdowns on the season, tied for second-most among TEs. This year, the Raiders have allowed six touchdowns to TEs, tied for third-most in the league. If this isn’t compelling evidence to play Uzomah this weekend, I don’t know what is.

Other TEs with good matchups: Dawson Knox (BUF) vs. IND and Cole Kmet (CHI) vs. BAL

Fade

QB Justin Herbert (LAC) vs. PIT – I’m prepared for this pick to backfire given the questionable status of Steelers’ defenders S Minkah Fitzpatrick (COVID) and OLB T.J. Watt (hip injury). But as good as Pittsburgh has been against QBs — 7th-fewest fantasy points allowed — this also has to do with how much Justin Herbert has struggled of late. Herbert is fantasy’s QB15 since Week 6. He also has only one 300-yard game in that span. Over his last four games, he’s completed less than 60% of his passes in three of them. While the Steelers have only three interceptions all year, they also have allowed only one 300-yard passing game. This game is set up to be about as ugly as the Steelers’ tie against Detroit in Week 10 unless the real San Diego Los Angeles Chargers stand up.

Other QBs with bad matchups: Carson Wentz (IND) at BUF and Taylor Heinicke (WAS) at CAR

RB Zack Moss (BUF) vs. IND – Bills RBs scored four touchdowns last week against the Jets. Zack Moss scored one, Devin Singletary scored one, and, somehow, Matt Breida found the endzone twice. I literally have no idea how that happened. Questionable usage aside, the Colts have a solid run defense, allowing only 801 rushing yards to RBs in 10 games. They also have allowed a league-low five total touchdowns to RBs. Moss makes his money by finding the end zone. He’s a low-floor FLEX-play, at best, this week.

RB Jordan Howard (PHI) vs. NO – Will Miles Sanders return in Week 11? Early indication is that he will, and that will drastically cut down Jordan Howard’s usage. But given that Howard is 5th among RBs in rushing yards over the last three weeks (211), I think it’s safe to say he’s earned a role with this offense even when Sanders returns. This week, the elite Saints run defense provides yet another hurdle for Howard’s upside. They’ve allowed the fewest rushing yards to RBs on the year, which will be a true test for this new run-centric offense the Eagles have sported in Sanders’ absence. I’d prefer to wait a week to see Howard’s usage in tandem with Sanders before feeling comfortable starting him, even as a FLEX.

Other RBs with bad matchups: Nyheim Hines (IND) at BUF, Darrel Williams (KC) vs. DAL, and Devonta Freeman (BAL) at CHI

WR Terry McLaurin (WAS) at CAR – Over his last five games, Terry McLaurin has one finish in the Top 30. In three of those five games, he’s been WR50 or worse. McLaurin now faces a Panthers defense that is locking up WRs. They’ve allowed the 3rd-fewest fantasy points to WRs on the season. Over the last three weeks, since star CB Stephon Gilmore came off the PUP list, they haven’t allowed a receiver more than 58 yards. Gilmore himself has allowed only 19 yards (!!!) in three games and has PFF’s 4th highest coverage since Week 8. It’s looking like a rough week lies ahead for McLaurin and the Washington pass offense.

WR Michael Pittman Jr. (IND) at BUF – Michael Pittman Jr. has been an absolute stud this season. He’s also been a top-12 WR in three of his last four games. But one thing WRs don’t do well is put up fantasy points against the Bills. They’re the stingiest defense to fantasy WRs. They’ve also allowed the fewest receiving yards and receiving touchdowns to WRs. The highest fantasy finish they’ve allowed to a WR is WR18 in a given week, and they’ve allowed five WRs to see 10+ targets. So even with volume, the outlook is bleak for Pittman this week.

Other WRs with bad matchups: Jarvis Landry (CLE) vs. DET, Marquez Callaway (NO) at PHI, and Bryan Edwards (LV) vs. CIN

TE Dallas Goedert (PHI) vs. NO – Dallas Goedert is coming off a concussion, which makes me nervous enough. If he’s somehow able to play, facing the Saints isn’t an easy matchup. New Orleans has allowed the 8th-fewest fantasy points to TEs and allowed only one touchdown to a TE this season, tied for third-fewest in the league. They’ve put up these stats while allowing the 10th-most targets to TEs on the season. The Eagles target their TEs plenty, but with the emergence of DeVonta Smith, Goedert could be used to draw coverage away from Smith, assuming Goedert is cleared to play.

Other TEs with bad matchups: Gerald Everett (SEA) vs. ARI and Austin Hooper (CLE) vs. DET